Some weeks I have it. Other weeks I don't. This has been one of those weeks in which I do not have it.
What I mean is some weeks I'm really good at posting on this blog. Other weeks -- I think you can figure out the rest.
With Monday being Labor Day, the week has been crazy-busy. It seems like time is flying. Do you feel that way too?
In all of that, and even though my brain feels a little mushy today, I've been thinking about a previous post: What are we doing to forward the cause of justice? It's not that I think there is anything wrong with that post. I just want to add some more thoughts. So if you will indulge me, I will do just that.
If you are like me, a person who has grown up in the church almost from the womb, you are conditioned to take on guilt easily. In fact, you subconsciously look for ways to feel guilty. For some reason, the church does that to some of us. Many of us. Maybe it's because we really want to do what's right. We want to follow God; therefore, we listen avidly to sermons and lessons and then we over examine ourselves to the point where we automatically feel guilty about everything.
Is anyone neurotic in that way like I am? It's okay to admit it. In fact, I'm thinking about starting a small group at church called Guilt Lovers Anonymous.
Not really. Well ... maybe. (Guilt can also lead to indecisiveness.)
Ever since I read that article on justice from "Reject Apathy" magazine, I've been thinking and thinking about it. How can I do justice? Unlike the people in the article, I can't take off to another country or move to another city at this moment. I have kids in a school where I really want them to stay. I have a job. A husband. An extended family. A mortgage and a dog.
Yet, Jesus says that we're to "hate" all of those things in comparison to our love for him.
Do you see why guilt can just take over?
I saw an example of this very thing on a series my husband and I are watching on Netflix called "Hell on Wheels." We are watching Season 1 on Netflix; Season 2 is running on AMC now. A preacher, who is part of the supporting cast on the show, lives in the town of Hell on Wheels, which moves along with the rail head as the Union Pacific is being constructed. The drama is taking place right after the Civil War, so those tensions weave a thread through the entire series.
Last night as we were watching, the preacher's daughter, a young woman, got off the train and came up to him. I thought it was really weird when he wouldn't look at her and told her that she couldn't stay. Later, he explained to one of his friends, a young Cheyenne warrior who had converted to Christianity, why he acted this way. He was taking the words of Jesus that I mentioned above quite literally, instead of being willing to place Christ above all else. This interpretation clearly gave the young Cheyenne serious pause, as he gave the preacher a look of disbelief.
I was really disappointed. I like the show, but does Hollywood always have to portray Christians misinterpreting Scripture to such a degree? Of course, as I thought about it, it is an accurate portrayal of the way some people live out their faith. Literally without thought. Ignoring any deeper meaning because thinking gives them a pain between the ears.
But then again, the preacher character seems like a decent fellow. Maybe the writers will have him see the error of his ways. That's what happens in real life, sometimes.
So, getting back to the guilt I was feeling about supposedly not doing anything related to forwarding the cause of justice. What am I to do?
An example came to mind the other day. In her world-renowned book "The Hiding Place," Corrie ten Boom wrote about her mother, Cor. Cor, who suffered from a stroke in the final days of her life, had lived a life of compassion. She took food to the sick, offered condolences to those in mourning, invited people into her home for food. In her final days, when she was bedridden, she encouraged her daughters to take soup to people who were also ill, and prayed for people she knew who were suffering. Corrie said that her mother's body may have been confined to her bed but her soul was free.
Cor ten Boom practiced justice right in her own neighborhood. She was there for people and tried her best to alleviate suffering. As a result, her daughters also practiced justice. "The Hiding Place" describes their efforts in hiding Jews from the Nazis. This effort cost the ten Booms their freedom. Corrie's sister and father lost their lives.
That is a living commentary of Christ's words about "hatred". It's a decision to love Christ so much that we are literally willing to give up our lives, our comforts, our lives living close to family if he should call us away. Or, if we are called to live close to family, it's doing things that God calls us to do whether they think we should or not. Living a "hate-filled" life in the sense that Christ talks about is a life of service or self-sacrifice. It is not hatred in the sense that we really hate our families in the way that we most often interpret the word.
That's the type of person I want to be - a person who lives a life of sacrifice. However, like Cor ten Boom this may mean that I have to stay at home.
A lot of times, in the church, we get caught up in talking about and funding overseas missions. While these are important, we must also remember that there are people in our neighborhoods who are undergoing tremendous suffering. Oh, it may not look like they are but there are people who are going through a version of hell on earth. In the U.S., we are conditioned to wear masks of self-sufficiency in front of others. We ask how someone is doing as part of a greeting. We really don't care to know.
Not all of us are called overseas or to leave the places we live. If we did that, how would God minister to the people around us?
I hope these thoughts bring peace to your heart like they did mine. Unless God has called you to go somewhere else, God is probably telling you to minister right where you live and leave the rest up to him.